Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and its suppliers are testing new versions of iPhones and iPads with larger screens, a new report said on Monday, supporting recent rumors that the company’s 2014 iPhone model, presumably called the “iPhone 6,” could sport a bigger display measuring more than 5 inches.
Apple, in recent months, asked its suppliers for larger prototype iPhone screens, measuring more than 4 inches. The company also has asked for screen designs, measuring slightly less than 13 inches, for a new iPad model, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant changed the screen sizes of its iPhone and iPod touch in 2012, while also introducing a new variant of the iPad with a smaller display. The company released the iPhone 5 and the fifth generation iPod touch with a 4-inch screen, while its new iPad mini featured a smaller 7.9-inch screen, compared to the full-size version of the device with a 9.7-inch screen.
The rumor comes at a time when rival manufacturers, such as Samsung (KRX:005935), Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Huawei, are offering smartphones with displays larger than five inches, forming a different category called “phablets,” which refers to devices that combine a smartphone and a tablet.
“Many handset vendors are rolling out big phones to meet the growing demand. To stay competitive, I believe that Apple is probably working on a larger iPhone,” a Journal report quoted Dennis Chan, an analyst at Yuanta, as saying.
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Although Apple is apparently working on larger displays for future versions of its popular mobile devices, the company is expected to release the 2013 model of the iPhone, dubbed the “iPhone 5S,” with the same screen size (4-inches) and display resolution (1136x640 pixels) as the current iPhone 5.
The same goes with the upcoming iPad, dubbed the “iPad 5,” which is likely to sport a 9.7-inch screen (2048 x 1536 pixels) as that of the existing version of the device. However, the next iPad, which is rumored to enter production later this month, could come with a lighter and thinner display structure, and incorporate “touch sensors with a thin film instead of glass which is used in existing iPads,” the WSJ report said.
Mass production of the iPhone 5S has already started, with Apple reportedly telling its assembler, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., trading as Foxconn Technology Group (OTCMKTS:FXCNY), to prepare for shipping the new iPhone units in late August. The iPhone 5S is expected to be released sometime in September or October alongside a lower-cost plastic model, with both expected to be available in a variety of colors.
The rumors about Apple testing larger iPhones and iPads have been around for quite some time now.
Reuters reported in June that Apple could launch iPhones sporting bigger screen sizes -- 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch -- in 2014; and ET News, a Korean news website, reported in May that the company could introduce a 12.9-inch iPad in 2014.
“After gaining a dominant position in the most profitable high-end segment, it makes sense [for Apple] to expand their product portfolio to tap into the other largely underserved segments,” Wanli Wang, a CIMB Group analyst, said.